Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that employees and self-employed people working part-time because they cannot find full-time work rose 46,000 to 1.21m, the highest figures since records began in 1992.
People unemployed for up to 12 months dropped 72,000 over the quarter to 1.6m, while those unemployed for more than a year fell by 16,000 to 829,000.
However, Brits who have been out of work for longer than 24 months increased by 39,000 to 385,000.
The drop in unemployment occurred mainly among those aged 16 to 24, falling 79,000 over the quarter to 895,000. This is the lowest figure for this age group in two years.
However, the proportion of young people in this age group who are economically active rose 0.1% to 23.3% or 9.37m people.
The ONS attributed the increase to a rising number of students without jobs, which now account for 2.29m of those inactive in the labour market.
The employment rate for those between 16 and 64 increased 0.1% to 70.6% to 29.24m people, 333,000 lower than the pre-recession peak of 29.57m.
Annual growth in pay, including bonuses, was 1.8% for the three months to April 2011, down from 2.4% for the three months to March. The ONS said the drop owed to a lower growth rate in bonuses in the private sector.
Annual growth for regular pay, excluding bonuses, was 2%, down from 2.1%.
The TUC warned that it could take five years for the UK to return to pre-recession employment rates and far longer in the North of England.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “While recent employment figures have been better than expected, the UK labour market is still very fragile and a long way off the level of jobs we had before the recession.
“New jobs are not being distributed evenly across the country, with employment conditions across northern England actually getting worse in the last 12 months.
“The government’s spending cuts have already hit consumer and business confidence, and they will start to cause heavy job losses in the public sector too.
“Businesses simply cannot create enough jobs to cope with the Chancellor’s cuts, which are putting a huge brake on our recovery.
“The government must rethink its economic strategy before unemployment starts rising again.”